24 December 2012

Merry Christmas Eve

This year's Christmas is very odd for me. I've been doing all of this reflecting and thinking about my beliefs in the last year. And I love the season, but I haven't thought of the religiosity of it this year. Not until this weekend. Then here it is, right in my face, CHRISTMAS.

What I wish Christmas was like.
I love Christmas because of the twinkle lights, the Christmas tree smell in the house, baking cookies, sitting and doing nothing, listening to Christmas music, opening presents (yeah, I never grew out of that), singing Christmas carols, watching Christmas movies.

I hate Christmas because it's another holiday I have to juggle family. Now that my mom is remarried, there's more extended family to add to the mix. People who are essentially strangers. I don't want to spend the holidays with strangers. I'd rather be with my sister and my grandma right now.

I remember at one time back in college, I had a really hard time with reconciling the non-religious parts of Christmas with the religious ones. Because Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ and Santa was evil. But more and more I've been thinking about how the 'secular' part of Christmas is actually the Christmas that everyone gets all nostalgic over. And considering the evolution of the holiday, it's okay. Because trees and lights and songs about 'Winter Wonderlands' have more to do with celebrating the winter solstice than Jesus. And it's okay to celebrate the winter solstice because this planet we live on turns round and round the sun and we are part of this world. It's a seasonal marker and I think it's important for us to interact with our world and enjoy it.

Also, if you think about Christmas from a Jewish perspective, Christmas is EVERYWHERE and there's no escaping it. I like Jon Stewart's take on this:
The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The War on Christmas: Friendly Fire Edition
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It's sermons like the one I heard on Sunday at church with my mom and her husband that make me hate Christmas. The pastor used Titus 2:11-14 has his text basis, which is: "11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

To sum up, he brought the death of Christ into the birth of Christ. His primary message was, 'we are waiting for Jesus to come back, because then we can leave this world, so make sure you live a moral self-controlled life and think about how Jesus' death was the only way you'd ever be a good person ever ever.' Then he used an analogy. He said that God's Judgment is like a big fast train, and you are in your car, stuck on the track. Door locks are stuck, car won't start, and you're about to be hit. Then Jesus, who is in the car right behind you, pushes your car out of the way and he takes the hit of the train.

I hate it when pastors do that. Can't they let go of the 'you don't deserve this salvation from God' for just one holiday? The one that is supposed to be about celebrating life? It makes me sick. That analogy turns God into an angry out of control machine who has no control over who gets punished because he has to dole out the judgment according to these certain rules that God can't break. Even though God is supposed to be able to do anything.

The message of righteousness and self control is all well and good unless it's the only message you have heard for your entire life. Self control only led to self denial and self hatred for me. It made me loath myself because I had been brainwashed into thinking that I haven't got a good bone in my body and that I don't deserve love.

My hope is not in his death, my hope is in his life. The one he lived. Why should 33(ish) years be overshadowed by three days? The Gospels are primarily ministry stories. So let's celebrate his birth as the beginning of the forgiveness and redemption of his life.

Basically, you know, it's a weird Christmastime for me this year. Full of awkward extended family interactions, a continuing anger at evangelicalism, and not opening my mouth when I want to scream at my family to wake the fuck up and have compassion for those who live outside of some strict moral code. Because I'm one of them now.

So Happy Birthday, Jesus (even though it's supposed to be in April).
Happy birthday.

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